Angela's Ashes Book by Frank McCourt
Click Here to Download the Book "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness. Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.
Reviews In Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt paints a picture of a childhood mired in poverty. He manages to be humorous and heartbreaking, and hopeless and triumphant all at once. I laughed, I cried, I felt dearly for the disadvantaged McCourt family that struggled against all odds. The memoir borrows heavily from the art of realism -- as tales of impoverished childhoods usually are. McCourt was born in depression era Brooklyn to an alcoholic father who spent all his wages at the bar, and a mother disgraced and desperate to feed her starving children. Here, we have a glimpse at the life of an Irish family living in a ratty (but ethnically diverse) tenement building. The children were often left their own devices, while the adults struggled with adult problems -- keeping a home, putting food on the table, etc. Loss is a prevalent and recurring theme in the book. Frankie's siblings, as young as several months, were victims of death many times. Things don't improve when they move back to Ireland to start over. Their North-Irish and alcoholic of a father couldn't find work, drank all the charity money they managed to get, and eventually abandoned his family for good. Meanwhile, the rest of the family must overcompensate by stealing, begging, and applying for public assistance -- the shame of which deeply affect each member of the family. Additionally, Frankie, a devout Catholic, must reconcile his church values and practices with stealing to feed his family, his sexual awakening, and the continuing deaths of his family and acquaintances. All in all, fantastic depression-era slice-of-life of a poor Irish family. McCourt is soulful and has a way with weaving tales and building characters. He makes you laugh and cry with the family, and keeps you rooting for their survival. I was very engaged and was sorry it had to end (a bit too abruptly too, I must say.)
I am currently touring Ireland. I have been here for two months and I leave in a few days. Since I have been here a while I have become more and more interested in Irish life. I have a few Irish friends and I have been fascinated in Ireland's rich and tumultuous history. This book is a heartbreaking and at times humorous story of Frank McCourt's impoverished childhood, the atrocity's the Catholic Church reigned upon the very people they were to be helping and the determination for a better life. I am not Irish. My family came from Hungry, Germany and Austria. I can only imagine the promise of a better life in America was very much the same to them as it was to the Irish people at the time. It kind of makes you wish America was still such a wonderful place (although, was it ever really that wonderful?). That's a whole other topic. I am now re-reading TIS by the same author. I actually read it 5 years ago and now that I read it's predecessor the book is a much more meaningful experience for me. Plus I live in New York and I spent 10 days in Limerick and have friends from there so both these books have new
meaning for me. Read these books!
I loved this book. I started out buying it as a gift for my mother. That might have been the last time I visited her at Christmas time (I'm not crazy about driving trips in the winter). And while there, I started reading it. I knew it I had to buy it for myself when I returned home. I did. And I read the book in about a week, if that long. I'm part Irish. But you don't have to be Irish to like this book. Matter of fact, a lot of the Irish didn't like it because it exposed just how poverty stricken they were. And many people feel it is exaggerated. But I think anyone who cares anything about people would like this book. It does have "in-your-face" poverty. Children who die because doctors aren't available or they are malnourished. People who look around and believe that if they stay where they are, they will be destined for the same poverty stricken life that their parents have. To me this was a very moving book. You could be crying your eyes out on one page at the sorrow of it all and on the very next page you are laughing hysterically at the folly of it all. But, maybe that's just the Irish in me.
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